May 28, 2024
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Top Five Tips for Millennials at Work

Much has been said about the different generational cohorts in today’s workforce. Perhaps the most talked-about group is the millennials. millennials, sometimes referred to as “GenY,” were born between 1980 and 1995. They are the first “digitally native” generation. Currently, it is estimated that approximately 36 percent of the workforce is millennial, and by 2020, that percentage will be about 46 percnet, almost half of the workforce. It has been said that millennials seek recognition, crave feedback and are job mobile. millennials have also been exposed to life opportunities that include travel and social justice missions here and abroad. These were not typical for their Gen X or baby boomer parents. While millennials have been informed by these experiences, they are still expected to work together with older generational groups.

In my advising of early-career professionals, I have been able to collect feedback from employers and provide guidance. It is not about one generational group being “right,” but about individuals being able to work together effectively in their organizations. Many millennials today are making the transition from college into the workplace, but many are already part of corporate America. Regardless, the following are five tips for millennials as a means to enhance workplace success.

  1. Dress and Defying Stereotypes: One of the first things we notice about others is appearance. Many books have been written about dressing for success. One of the knocks on millennials is that their dress is overly casual. So, it is important for millennials to dress in a way that is normative with other co-workers and the organization. This is not only the case for a job interview, but on the job as well. Many companies have become business casual with guidelines of how that differs from just casual. You can still dress stylishly and even trendy, as long as it’s not sloppy, over the top or otherwise distracting.
  2. Avoiding Digital Distractions: Most people today will bring one or more digital devices to work. It could be a smartphone, tablet, watch or laptop. These devices can be used for both work and personal life. It is never good form for supervisors and co-workers to see someone “always on his phone” texting or checking into Facebook. It is therefore wise to develop habits of disconnecting during core work hours and using lunch or other scheduled breaks to check in. Developing such a routine will serve to send a message to others of your unavailability patterns.
  3. History Lesson: Another criticism of millennials, unfounded or not, relates to their attitude towards management. Regardless of generation, it is important to think of yourself as part of the chain of history. Realize that older employees and managers have experienced life and have successfully managed situations. One day, you too may be the older generation and have wisdom to give over. In addition, older generations at work had to get by with less (technology) and had to develop work styles without what is now available. So, the wisdom (including those who impart it) together with perhaps their “old school” approach to work should be respected.
  4. Initiative: In every job, there will be downtime. This might especially be the case for millennials during internships. Keep in mind that there are ways of filling those gaps with reaching out and asking what else needs to be done. This could also be done by intuiting needs without having to ask how to be helpful. There might also be opportunities to do some independent business research or take job-relevant online tutorials.
  5. Stay in Touch: It is commonplace for millennials to cycle in and out of jobs more frequently than their predecessors. It goes without saying that it is never wise to burn bridges when leaving a job. But it is also recommended that when moving on that one give appropriate notice, leave the work area clean and assist with transitioning a replacement. After leaving, make sure to keep up with the organization and co-workers in a positive manner. One never knows when they will once again be relevant to you.

By Elliot D. Lasson

 Elliot D. Lasson, PhD is Professor of the Practice and Graduate Program Director at UMBC for its Masters in Industrial Organizational Psychology Program, also practicing as a Human Capital Consultant. He is a sought-after speaker and has appeared on TV and radio including the Nachum Segal Network.

 

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